The One Reason It’s Okay to Embrace Regret

In my 27 years on earth, I have yet to meet someone who didn’t have at least one significant regret. As humans, we experience regret starting at a young age. While the regrets I had as a 6-year-old child may seem far less important now that I’ve experienced more life events, I think it’s important to remember that our regrets are based on what is paramount to us at the time. Who’s to say that regretting my crayon of choice during an art project is any less significant than feeling remorse about certain decisions I’ve made as an adult?

A mantra commonly used by millennials these days is “NO REGRETS,” something which I find troubling. While this philosophy is certainly not a new concept, I do find it troubling that this “YOLO,” “NO F*$CKS GIVEN” and “CANNOT DEAL” mentality is potentially interfering with individuals’ willingness to connect with a totally normal emotion: regret.

To live a life with no regrets is completely catastrophic, impractical and, in my opinion, a totally unprincipled outlook.

The thing is, when you regret something, you can recognize that something you did wasn’t up to your personal standards and enables you to reflect upon how you can improve yourself going forward. The problem with regrets is that many of those who do allow themselves to feel the emotion tend to dwell on it for a bit longer than what is healthy or necessary. While it certainly depends on the individual as to how much self-reflection or, at the very worst, extreme anxiety, they may feel when thinking about their life choices, I think it’s important to focus on a positive outcome.

The key is not allowing yourself to stay in the rut. Deal with the emotions, meditate on it and do whatever it is you need to without granting permission to those negative feelings that may be a bit too keen to linger. Without regret, how can you learn about yourself and how you react to unfavorable situations? It’s impossible.

To live a life embracing your regrets doesn’t mean individuals must concentrate on their decisions. It just means to embrace the fact that we are human beings who have a wide array of emotional capabilities and feelings and I think it’s absolutely necessary to respect that. Each mistake shapes our lives and conscious beings just as much as the wonderful bits.

My current mantra that I’m trying to implement into every aspect of my life is “let it go.

There is no point in trying to change the past, nor is there any trace of sanity in thinking that it is possible. However, the only vehicle for people to understand their wrongdoings or flaws is simply by learning to embrace regret.

Next time you find yourself in the midst of a conversation and uttering “NO F*$CKS GIVEN” or any of this year’s trendy catchphrases which insinuate that you couldn’t care less, examine why you’re allowing yourself to give off these negative vibes to your conscious – allow yourself to feel. There are far too many things in this world (like literally keeping up with the Kardashians) to be unenthusiastic about. Your life shouldn’t be one of them.

————-

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

― Charles Bukowski, “The Laughing Heart”

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11 Comments

  1. November 2, 2015 / 6:17 am

    Indeed… Let it go… Regrets can be looked at in a positive way – by learning from your mistakes and knowing not to repeat them again in the future…

  2. November 3, 2015 / 7:48 am

    This is really interesting. I have to admit that I am someone who is struggling to think of anything I regret in my life. And don’t get me wrong – I’m 29 in a few weeks so I’m way too old to be part of that YOLO generation.

    I guess I do regret not spending more time with my grandparents before they died but their passing definitely changed me in a huge way. That’s when I suddenly realised how short and precious life was and that I should make the most out of every day and every interaction and every friendship and relationship I had.

    That’s super cheesy, right?

    But I agree that you shouldn’t be afraid of having regrets. They’re a natural part of being human and we should embrace them and then let it go.

  3. November 5, 2015 / 12:24 am

    Very interesting take on this. I think in a way, let it go and no regrets intermingle along some of the same lines. I have no regrets because I actively choose to let go of the negative in my life and keep moving forward. The past is in the past and nothing can be done to change it. You can learn from it and make yourself better now. I think that’s the beauty of the life we live.

  4. November 5, 2015 / 1:58 am

    Hmmm an interesting way to view regrets. I find when I regret doing something, I feel absolutely terrible and fall into a negative cycle. I personally don’t think those feelings are healthy, and as you said it’s better to “let it go”. When I do something I later regret, I try and brush it off to a lesson learnt and move on. Sometimes however we need to do things (e.g take chances / risks) and tell ourselves we will not regret whatever the outcome is.

  5. November 5, 2015 / 2:29 am

    This is a nice perspective. I have been guilty of pretending not to care or dwelling on a regret. I find myself as I’m getting older that I do lean more towards letting go and moving on.

  6. November 6, 2015 / 7:43 am

    Nicely said and well written. It’s refreshing to read about internal emotions and self reflection is always a good thing. I agree that regret is a normal emotion and I thing the mantra is really just that, don’t dwell on your mistakes. Regret can just be a certain perspective. I can regret a bad decision, but also learn a valuable lesson in return. Making that mistake can in turn help me grow as a mature adult, so therefore it is no longer a “regret”.

  7. November 7, 2015 / 3:34 am

    Let it go…. I regret that I read that as Elsa singing it in Frozen >.<

    This was a great read! I've found that I grow the most and derive the most knowledge from mistakes I made and things I wish I'd done differently. I think the ability to regret goes hand in hand with humbleness… knowing that you're fallible and have room to improve.

    But like you said, the trick is knowing when to let regrets go and move on. Thanks for the read! Challenging in the best of ways…

  8. November 8, 2015 / 11:16 am

    Great post! Positive thoughts – needed ! I’ve been living in Korea for 5 months now and I’m at a point where my job here gets very overwhelming and I feel a bit lost at times. “Let it go” is sure something I have to try more! Thanks 🙂

  9. November 9, 2015 / 2:23 am

    Good post about embracing regret, thanks for sharing. I was delighted to see a Bukowski poem at the end as well! Back in my youth, I voraciously went through his poems and novels. His simple, down-to-earth poems always made me feel better when I was down. My favorite poem by him, “Roll the Dice” : http://www.agonia.net/index.php/poetry/13902956/Roll_the_Dice

  10. November 9, 2015 / 5:30 am

    I have been practicing a very similar mantra “Let go and Let God”, I also think its important to look at situations especially difficult ones and look at what you can learn from the moment. Get the lesson and keep it moving. When we decide to just say “F it” we miss out on teachable moments.

    Great post and thanks for the reminder

  11. November 9, 2015 / 12:33 pm

    I definitely have the tendency to be more of a dweller on past mistakes. Like we’re talking things that happened forever ago. But I totally agree that it is better to face your regrets so you can make strides into fixing past mistakes and moving forward.

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